There are plenty of travelers out there who harbor very little love for long-haul flights. In fact, I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a person who actually *likes* long-haul flights. They’re just not something the average person enjoys.

I mean, a long-haul flight essentially means being confined to a couple of square feet for hours upon end, being fed dubious in-flight “meals,” and being forced to breathe the same dry, recycled air as dozens (or hundreds) of other people.

Sound appealing? … I thought not.

Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown, New Zealand

Despite not exactly loving long-haul flights, though, I have nevertheless become quite familiar with them over the past 7 years. I’m a traveler, after all, and distance (or flight time) has never kept me from visiting a destination.

Here, then, are the 3 longest of the long flights I’ve ever been on:

Atlanta, Georgia, –> Honolulu, Hawaii9 hours

My flight from Ohio to Hawaii a year ago was supposed to be broken up into nice, manageable chunks. I was supposed to fly from the Midwest, to Denver, to Seattle, to Honolulu, with no flight lasting more than a few hours. But a last-minute ice storm cancelled my original itinerary, and I was rebooked (by a lovely Delta representative, I may add) on a long-haul flight from Atlanta nonstop to Honolulu. Despite never leaving the United States, the flight lasted a whopping 9 hours. Luckily, I had a fantastic seatmate who made the long hours fly by.

Los Angeles, California –> Auckland, New Zealand12 hours

I’ve been to New Zealand 3 separate times now — meaning 6 long-haul flights between the U.S. and the South Pacific in total. The flights from Los Angeles from Auckland usually last, on average, about 12 hours, and can be grueling. But, I always make sure to book with Air New Zealand — my favorite airline. A friendly flight crew, decent in-flight meals, and a huge selection of in-flight entertainment makes these long flights almost enjoyable. Almost.

Chicago, Illinois –> Shanghai, China14 hours

You’d think flying to NZ from the West Coast would be the longest flight on my list. But no, there’s one that was even longer — a nonstop flight from the Midwest to China. My third year of college, I went with my marching band on performance tour to China, flying a route that took us over the Arctic and Russia. That long-haul flight is the only one on this list that I didn’t fly solo, and having friends on the plane definitely helped. But the flight was still uncomfortable, and the “meal” of Ramen noodles served halfway through the flight did nothing to improve it.

Glenorchy Air, Queenstown, New Zealand

After looking back at these flights, flying to Iceland in March will be nothing, and even any London flights I look into for this summer should be a piece of cake!

——

What’s the longest flight YOU have ever been on?

 

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63 Responses to Long-Haul Flights – The Longest of the Long

  1. Our longest so far was 12 hours, NYC to Kahului, Maui. It would have been fine if not for the kids running up and down the aisles and jumping on seats all the way there.
    A Cook Not Mad recently posted..The City in Pictures

  2. I did Atlanta to Seoul non-stop which was right around 13 hours…and then followed by a 4 hour bus ride.
    The World of Deej recently posted..A Misadventure at the Las Vegas Sport Book

  3. Jeremy says:

    I’ve been on four crazy long ones.

    My flight from Chicago to Athens was 10 hours ignoring the first layover.
    My flight from Amman to New York City was around 10 1/2 hours ignoring the other layovers and a flight cancellation after that caused me to stay overnight in Atlanta.
    My flight from Houston to Tokyo was around 12 hours not including the first layover.
    My longest flight…. 8 1/2 hours from Singapore to Tokyo, 13 hours from Tokyo to Newark, a canceled flight in Newark and a quick flight to Cleveland.. a stay overnight with my brother.. and a 3 hour drive home.

    woo! I love flying. Not. :)
    Jeremy recently posted..The Long-Term Traveler’s Guide is Almost Here!

  4. Claire says:

    As an Australian I am used to long hauls. Recently I did Sydney-Vancouver (14 hours) with a connection onto Toronto (4 hours). The way to Sydney was a bit easier as I stopped over in Vancouver. I’ve also done Buenos Aires to Sydney (15 hours) but luckily got upgraded to premium economy. To Europe is worse… It’s an 8 hour to South-east Asia backed up with 12 more to Europe.

    Makes the 5 hour flight to Perth go by in a flash.
    Claire recently posted..Postcard: From Fall with love…

    • DangerousBiz says:

      Yes, as an Aussie you pretty much have to be used to long-haul flights if you want to travel outside the South Pacific!

  5. Shannon says:

    longest flight? I think I finally managed 6 hours from Portland,OR to Honolulu with a 1 hour flight beforehand from Medford, OR to Portland and I normally do Honolulu through San Francisco or Los Angeles because its almost 2 hours shorter. I’ll never pick a 737 ever again for a 6 hour flight.

    My longest bus ride was 26 hours from Pensacola, FL to Richmond, VA with two changes, one in Mobile, AL and one in Atlanta, GA

    i prefer to break up my flights into multi stops as much as I can if the costs aren’t crazy, my longest flight will be 8hrs 55mins from Philadelphia to Zurich not including a plane change in Denver. It looks like I’ll be flying to NYC from Berlin depending on my phone interview on my way to Argentina I’m not looking forward to the long 9-12 hour flights at all they should mandate airlines to offer beds for the same price as a seat :P

    • DangerousBiz says:

      I, too, like to try to break up long flights if it’s feasible (and if it doesn’t add a whole day onto my travels!). Often it’s cheaper to book a flight with multiple layovers anyway.

      I’ve done long bus rides, too — most notably from Ohio to Disney World in Florida, and from Ohio around the Great Lakes to Montreal. Both WAY worse than long-haul flights in my opinion!

  6. Nicole says:

    I actually don’t mind flights – yes, I am the 1% haha. My Dad hates them but on our last flight thought about it and whenever an American asked how we can do such a long flight his answer was always this: “Yes it’s a long time but once you get on the plane, have a wine, enjoy a meal, watch a movie, have a sleep, and have another meal you’ll be almost there and time will have flown.” Dad basically sums up everything I love about flying… and it’s a great way to save on video rental fees ;) Haha!

    Owch! Can’t believe the trip to China is the longest. Thought admittedly I was surprised that planes even flew over the arctic til I did a flight the other week from Hong Kong to New York.

    My longest flight is as follows.

    Adelaide -> Melbourne = 1hr
    Melbourne -> LAX = 14.5 hrs

    Missed the connecting flight (by less than a minute and the bastards wouldn’t let me on!) out of LAX. Only 1 every day with American so not only did I lose a free flight but I had to fork out $800 to get from LAX to NYC on the same day.

    LAX -> JFK = 5hrs 10minutes.

    Did I mention I can’t sleep on planes? Haha.

    What can I say.. I’m an Australian and I want to see the world! Haha. :)
    Nicole recently posted..Melbourne’s Street Art: Hosier Lane

    • DangerousBiz says:

      I can’t sleep on planes, either!! But, like you, I’ll pick travel any day, even if it does mean going sleepless on a long flight!

      And your dad has a good point — airlines with top-notch in-flight entertainment and good service make those long-hauls much more bearable.

  7. John says:

    Thankfully I haven’t had anything too bad so far – LAX to Tokyo was my longest and it was only 10 hours or so. Everything else has been nicely broken up. In my opinion, the key to having a great long haul flight is the seat selection. Some of the 777s have exit rows in economy that have 5-6 feet of legroom for no extra money. If you book early enough, you can snag those seats and it makes the flight a breeze.
    John recently posted..Losing Myself in the Sites of Stanley Park – Vancouver, British Columbia

    • DangerousBiz says:

      Great point on seat selection being key! My most enjoyable long-haul flight was one from Auckland to LA where I was sat in the row right behind the toilets. I had extra leg room, and was able to stretch out without being in anyone’s way. It was glorious.

  8. Ryan says:

    Done the LAX to AKL, and I already don’t like flying much. It wasn’t too bad, but there was a giant Sottsman beside me that was more afraid than me, and was heaving and shaking when the plane hit turbulence. Freaked me out!
    Ryan recently posted..Review: Evernote Hello – The Best App For Remembering People You Meet While Traveling

  9. Erik says:

    I’ve done Chicago to Sydney, which was 16 hours, and Singapore to San Francisco, which was 15.5.

    Both flights left me a babbling lunatic. Well, no, not really, but that’s probably not too far away from the truth.

    The 10 hour flight to Israel in 2010 was the worst, however, as I was seated next to a lady that weighed at least 300 lbs. She was really nice, and also sympathetic to me being squashed up against the window, but when she fell asleep, she stopped trying to share the space. I must have spent at least 2 hours standing in the aisle by the bathroom.
    Erik recently posted..An Authentic Philly Cheesesteak

  10. Shannon says:

    One thing I’ll probably write about on my blog is exit row seats for people with disabilities but I am not going to tell the whole story here cuz this isn’t the place:

    Remember if you sit in an exit row, you’ll have a lot more obligations than just sitting there you’ll be required to tell flight attendants you understand the implications of sitting there and that you’ll take responsibility and are capable of opening that emergency door and helping the first few passengers get out now on a typical flight you might not consciously keep that in your mind because majority of flights recover without incident. If I had the luxury of sitting in an exit row I probably wouldn’t because of the extra obligations required to sit there (yet some airlines CHARGE for this).

    Ok enough about that: here comes my spiel I get leg cramps (not DVT fortunately) I would LOVE to have the extra space but the law prohibits me from even getting an aisle seat in an exit row (now I know some people with disabilities who purposely book exit rows hoping they’l get put there and the F/A doesn’t notice (oohh now that’d be bad in an real emergency because the FAA will come down hard on them for that)

    To sum it up, if you’re ok with responsibility in getting the exit door open then that’s cool but for the airline to charge you with that in mind I have a problem with yet I can’t sit there though I would have less leg & feet cramps if I could. And some airlines have seats with more pitch which you must pay for now I can understand that as long as it isn’t an exit row.

  11. Adam Pervez says:

    My longest flight was 19 hours – New York (EWR) to Singapore. If Singapore Airlines wasn’t so cool, it would have been miserable. Instead, great experience. And delayed due to the remnants of a hurricane, a guy was waiting on the jet bridge with a name tag to hand me a new boarding pass, phone card to call my contact in Malaysia to say I’d be late, and a meal voucher even though the delay was caused by mother nature. Amazing service!
    Adam Pervez recently posted..Merida, Venezuela – A Perfect Introduction To The Andes

    • DangerousBiz says:

      Wow, talk about service! Nice.

      I actually just wondered aloud on my Facebook page whether anyone had done the Newark to Singapore flight — it’s supposedly the longest non-stop flight in the world.

  12. Daisy says:

    My longest flight was from Sydney to L.A. which was a little over 15 hours. With United, which wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be!
    Daisy recently posted..U.S. Vaccination Schedule

    • DangerousBiz says:

      Well that’s good that United wasn’t too bad for such a long flight! Like I mentioned in the post, I’ve pretty much only flown Air NZ to the South Pacific. But I flew Delta to Hawaii (not bad) and I think American to China (I will never forgive the Ramen noodles…).

  13. Chelsea says:

    14hrs Los Angeles to Taipei followed by a two hour stopover before Taipei to Brisbane which was another 12 or so hours. The LA – Taipei flight was packed but but the Taipei to Brisbane was super quiet so we didn’t get upgraded but did get to move around the cabin and stretch out over a whole row per person and stuff.

    • DangerousBiz says:

      Yikes, long flights! At least you got to stretch out a bit on the second one though! That’s always at least a small consolation.

  14. Mike says:

    I have a 13.5 hour flight coming up in March from Dallas to Tokyo that I am not looking forward to. This wouldn’t wouldn’t be so bad if I did not have to do a 12 hour layover. Hopefully I can successfully get a hotel room for the night using HotelTonight.

    • DangerousBiz says:

      I don’t think I’d be looking forward to that flight, either! Especially with a 12-hour layover… yuck! Good luck!

  15. I was on a really long one about 8 years ago–to South Africa. I think it was around 30 hours or so, due to a long stopover in Frankfurt. I liked it, however, because I was bumped to business class on the first leg. It was paradise…I actually slept. In Frankfurt, I took one of those red bus tours and then slept on a bench. Topped it off with a good German beer that left my knees a bit shaky. Then came the last part of the flight.

    Strangely enough, I’ve had some very short and very bad flights. I think that for me, it’s about who you’re next to, how much leg room there is and whether or not there are crying babies nearby–LOL. And no middle seat ever. :)

    PS: I can’t believe they gave you Ramen noodles on your way to Shanhai. Shame on them!!!
    Lisa @chickybus recently posted..Mangú, Merengue and Mao: A Day in a Dominican Village

    • DangerousBiz says:

      None of the flight on my list included layovers… if we were counting layover, my flights back from NZ would easily be more than 24 hours!

      I agree though that how bearable a flight is totally depends on the situation. My 9-hour flight to Hawaii was actually pretty great because I had a really interesting, chatty seat buddy. He was even nice enough to give me a ride into the city once we landed!

  16. Gemma says:

    I guess I’m one of those strange people that enjoys long haul flights.

    I’ve done two long haul haul flights that were more than 10 hours.

    London –> Tokyo, Japan
    London –> San Francisco

    and I’ve done quite a few more to the states from London including Florida and New York.

    I adore flying so for me it was a great experience.

    My worst flight was on a tiny little plane flying over to one of the small Japanese islands, the plane felt like it was dropping in the air and twisting every which way!
    Gemma recently posted..D to F of London – A to Z series

    • DangerousBiz says:

      I wouldn’t call you “strange,” but you’re definitely in the minority! That’s great that you enjoy long-haul flights, though. I wish I could be in love with them!

  17. I think my longest was from Ohio to Greece, but of course that required a stop somewhere in the US and then in Frankfort. So I was probably only on a plane for 9 or 10 hours max. I’ll take my 28-hour bus ride (on a comfy Argentina bus) over a long-haul flight any day :-)
    Stephanie – The Travel Chica recently posted..2011 Travel Year in Review from A to Z

  18. Toni says:

    London to Tokyo would probably be my longest – 12.5 hours to Hong Kong where I changed planes for 2 hours then another 4 hours after that. I have to say that I loved the 12.5 flight though! I watched 3 movies, 3 episodes of Family guy and caught 90 minutes of sleep…it only felt like 6 hours; dream. I have, however, been on just a 6 hour flight and it felt like it took the entire day which sucked especially with a kid 2 rows in front that decided to exercise his right to free screaming speech – I wanted to get on the tannoy and ask if anyone had packed a gag ball! lol
    Toni recently posted..Words can’t describe Chobe National Park, Botswana

    • DangerousBiz says:

      I’ve had some really terrible 5-hour flights before — sometimes they definitely CAN feel longer than a 12-hour one!

  19. Curt says:

    I’ll count myself lucky. My longest single flight so far has been Rome to Philadelphia about a year ago, roughly 10 hours. However, since others are mentioning their longest day of travel, I’ll offer this: Oxford to Phoenix, about six years ago. The day started at 6 am in Oxford, bus ride to Heathrow, then a flight to Reykjavik, then to Minneapolis. I had missed my connection to Phoenix, so a flight to Las Vegas, then to Phoenix, where I arrived at 1 am the next day. That was about 27 hours with the time zone changes.
    Curt recently posted..Going places: January edition

    • DangerousBiz says:

      A long travel day, indeed! I’ve had days like that. For example, coming home from NZ once: Short flight from Wellington to Auckland, hour layover, flight from Auckland to Los Angeles, missed my flight so got stuck with an 8-hour layover, flight to Philadelphia, layover, then finally a flight to Pittsburgh and then an hour drive home. Easily more than 28 hours in-transit!

  20. Rachael Sena says:

    The flight from LA to Sydney was about 14 hours. During that time, I watched a lot of movies and stumbled about the cabin like an old woman. I was never so happy to be on the ground after that flight!
    Rachael Sena recently posted..Cheap Accomodations in New York City

    • DangerousBiz says:

      Haha, I know the feeling! I can’t even imagine how miserable those flights must have been before the dawn of in-flight entertainment!

  21. Laura says:

    My longest flight is also the Chicago to Shanghai. It’s so crazy how they basically go north over the arctic instead of west! Luckily I was flying for work and able to book in business class, so it was actually quite a nice experience. I was able to sleep and drink wine and eat off of real china. But it’s certainly such a long time to be on a plane and I was still exhausted and jet lagged after.
    Laura recently posted..The Vatican! And Confirmation that We aren’t Tour People

    • DangerousBiz says:

      I know, I had no idea flight paths actually went over the Arctic before that flight! Kinda cool, but it certainly doesn’t make the flight any shorter. Lucky you, getting to fly it business class though!

  22. NLM says:

    The good thing about long-hauls is that every flight after the longest seems bearable. Worst was Johannesburg to JFK (w/ stop in Senegal)–it took forever- maybe 18 h? But it made LAX-AUK and LAX-BEI seem acceptably uncomfortable, lol. And I remember when I thought 4 hours across the US was a long flight! Anyway, no matter how awful the flights, I’ve always been glad to get there.
    NLM recently posted..A Journey I’m (Probably) Never Going to Take

  23. Rebecca says:

    I like living at a hub and changing planes less. I just want to get there already!!! Prob LAX to AKL was my longest, but since it was just one flight, I don’t complain about it.

    I am quite picky about routes I take, especially to Europe. There is a huge difference in stopping on the East Coast then stopping at a hub (LHR, CDG, etc) before your final destination.
    Rebecca recently posted..Not As Scarey As It Sounds! – Frankenstein Hostel – Cusco, Peru

    • DangerousBiz says:

      Living near a major hub certainly would be nice! I’m close enough to Pittsburgh, but it’s not nearly as much of a hub as LAX is.

  24. ken stan says:

    Just got off a 15 hour flight from San Fransico to Hong Kong and if that wasn’t bad enought I missed my conection and had another 24 hours in the airport waiting for the conection.

    • DangerousBiz says:

      Oh no! Missing a connection after a long-haul flight is the WORST. Believe me, I’ve been there. But hey, 24 hours would be enough time to go out and explore!

  25. Denni says:

    The longest flight I’ve been on is 11 hours, and it stinks. I’m in Texas, where it takes four hours to get to either coast.
    Denni recently posted..layla grace furniture

  26. Maria D. says:

    so far my longest flight has only been 2 1/2 hours, from Boston to Orlando. I have not traveled as much as I would like.
    I have driven from Boston to Orlando, which is a 23 hour drive. I much prefer driving so that I can see more of the places I am going through.
    Maria D. recently posted..Funny Stories in Las Vegas

    • DangerousBiz says:

      I much prefer grounded travel, too, Maria — I love scenery above all! But sometimes you don’t have much of a choice but to fly.

  27. Andi says:

    I have done a lot of long hauls and don’t care for them either. LAX to Tahiti, SFO to Tokyo or Shanghai or Singapore, Paris to Seoul – but the worse was just this week – Paris to SFO took 12 hours because of weather – not fun!

  28. Ali says:

    Ok just saw you did decide on Iceland! Yay! My flight from Atlanta to Hong Kong involved a layover in Tokyo, so the Atlanta to Tokyo leg was 14 hours. That was pretty rough, especially since it was even over and I had to get on a 5 hour flight after that to finally reach Hong Kong.
    Ali recently posted..How Much I Spent in Southeast Asia for Two Months

  29. Vanessa says:

    I think Brisbane – Sydney … wait around … Sydney – Honolulu … wait around …. then Honolulu to Vancouver was one of my longest trips ever!!

    As a kid I did Brisbane-Sydney-LA many times with my family. The worst part of those 14 hour flights is the last few hours, your body is screaming for exercise, your eyes are too dry to read/watch tv, food is uninteresting and tastes like cotton wool (no matter what airline!) and after a few hours you look at your watch and only 10 minutes has passed.
    Vanessa recently posted..Review – Pacsafe Products

  30. travelller nz says:

    All one day, Halifax, Nova Scotia to Toronto, to Vancouver to Auckland. At least Air New Zealand had great service and friendly staff

  31. Karina says:

    Mine was a few months ago, Paris to Adelaide, Australia via Singapore. It was 13 hours to Singapore and then another 6 to Adelaide. I couldn’t believe I made it, I was so proud of myself (stupid, I know), but somehow I felt like a survivor. I returned to Paris from Sydney, which tacked on another two hours going back through Singapore. Going back was worse, man that was a loooooong trip!!! Previous to this my longest flights had been LA to Paris, so I feel like a real traveler now! :)

  32. Grant Lucas says:

    I am the person for longest flights. I am experiencing it once or maybe twice a year when I visit my hometown. Its a thing for us to visit the Philippines once or twice a year when I am now living in Australia. I kinda of get used to it already, I just make sure I have all the things I needed. Especially my books!

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